Questions regarding the associated or underlying meaning of a word, in addition to its primary definition

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1
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2answers
277 views

Alternative word for jealous (without the negative connotations)

I was wondering whether there is a word similar to jealousy but without the negative connotations? For example, if I really admired someone for their memory and wished mine could be as good - however, ...
3
votes
1answer
182 views

“Buy the farm” meaning

In Alice Cooper’s song “Hey Stoopid” from his 1991 album, there is a verse that runs like this: Now I know you’ve been kicked around. You ain’t alone in this ugly town. You stick a needle ...
1
vote
3answers
245 views

Has “freak” always carried a negative connotation?

Many words (such as imbecile and idiot) used to be technical terms or proper names, however, eventually came to be used mainly for insults, and are today considered negative. Has the word "freak" ...
3
votes
3answers
348 views

Is there a difference between “less ambiguous” and “more unambiguous”?

Relevant examples: If you make the following changes your sentence will be less ambiguous. If you make the following changes your sentence will be more unambiguous. Do these sentences have ...
1
vote
1answer
184 views

What is the word for the state of ignoring something?

What is the word for the state of ignoring something? For instance, if I am ignoring you, am I in a state of ignorance? Is there a better word with a less negative connotation?
2
votes
1answer
171 views

Is there a word that means English-Language-Centric?

There was an argument about how someone spelled "Revolution" and they said "No, I did not write it incorrectly. I used the Spanish version: 'Revuloción' without the accented o to make my life a little ...
2
votes
2answers
127 views

Connotation of term autodidact

I would like to know if autodidact has a positive, negative, or neutral connotation behind it. These questions asking about usage imply: A neutral connotation: Autodidactic as a Verb What would ...
1
vote
4answers
184 views

Does “nattering” have a negative connotation?

I hear people saying that they're "having a natter" with their friends, or 'If you want to have a natter about starting a project, give me a call!'. On different websites there are different ...
5
votes
5answers
17k views

“Much obliged” — Old-fashioned? Polite? Pedantic?

I've heard someone say "Much obliged!" a couple of times, instead of the usual "Thank you!". A common phrase in Portuguese ("Muito Obrigado") and maybe other languages, but certainly unusual in ...
3
votes
2answers
314 views

Does “moonlighting” have a negative or neutral connotation?

We all agree that "moonlighting" denotes having a second job. However, Merriam-Webster and Oxford Advanced Learner's don't define it in exactly the same way. For example, Merriam-Webster attaches a ...
1
vote
2answers
98 views

Is “use” a negative word in the following sentence?

I heard somebody say: I used my mother to find my socks. The moment I heard it, my first impression was that it meant something bad — a rather negative word choice. Then I looked up use ...
2
votes
8answers
3k views

What is the neutral way of telling someone to “do whatever you want”?

Do whatever you want This sentence can carry a negative tone (highly probable). Making it sound that someone is fed-up and/or simply doesn't care. Especially after one has had a heated ...
0
votes
2answers
167 views

Does “eschew” have negative connotations?

For example, in the sentence: He eschewed his father's profession. does this have the implication that he found it somewhat repugnant, or does it just mean he decided it wasn't for him?
9
votes
7answers
2k views

Are there racial overtones for the term thug?

Some of us have seen the Richard Sherman pre-SuperBowl interviews where he accuses the media of racism by using the term "thug" to describe him/his actions. He suggests that it is being used to ...
2
votes
2answers
308 views

Connotation of “sanguine” vs “sanguinary”

I've recast this question after lighting upon sanguinary. sanguine: optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation: sanguinary (archaic): involving or ...
-1
votes
1answer
138 views

What are the differences between, and the connotations of, “flag”, “banner”, and “standard”?

See also: Difference between "banner" and "flag". I would like to know about standard, too. What would you say are the differences between the three words?
1
vote
2answers
148 views

The difference between “heathen” and “ungodly”

My student needed an adjective which means "irreligious" or "does not believe in God/a god." I suggested the words "heathen" and "ungodly". Would you say there's a difference between the two ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

What are the connotations of “there” in “hello/hi there”

I'm an ESL speaker and I'm not completely familiar with the underlying meaning conveyed when adding there to a greeting such as Hello there compared to just Hello (punctuation omitted for ...
1
vote
5answers
188 views

Connotatively neutral alternatives to “ignorant”?

The word "ignorant" has a denotative meaning along the lines of "to lack knowledge" or "to not know", but its connotative meaning, by my understanding, is negative. Are there any synonyms of this ...
2
votes
3answers
256 views

Difference between “infirmary” and “sick-bay”?

What's the difference between "infirmary" and "sick-bay"? Are they completely synonymous?
2
votes
1answer
277 views

Why does the *dirty* in *dirty mind* refer to sex instead of any type of immoral thought?

Why does the dirty in dirty mind refer to sexual-related thoughts instead of any type of immoral thought (including ill will or malice against another)?
197
votes
37answers
78k views

Is there a non-sexual phrase for sleeping with someone?

The phrase "sleeping with someone" often means "having sex." What is the origin of this sexual connotation? Is there a non-sexual equivalent of this phrase to express sleeping with someone without ...
0
votes
3answers
355 views

Does “dissimulation” have a positive, negative, or neutral connotation?

I tried checking a few online dictionaries and can't get a feel for whether the word is generally used in a positive or negative sense. What is the connotation of "dissimulation"?
1
vote
4answers
481 views

How acceptable is “asinine”

The relation between asinine and ass is pretty apparent, and I know that ass isn't a very acceptable word, but is asinine? If it were used in an essay for school or during discussion would it be ...
1
vote
1answer
413 views

Does “abstruse” carry a positive or negative connotation?

Generally, does the word "abstruse" give positive or negative (or neutral) connotations? For example, "daedal" and "profound" would generally be considered a word with positive connotations, whereas ...
4
votes
1answer
290 views

“Motherland” vs. “fatherland”

What are the different connotations of motherland and fatherland? NOAD defines both as "a person's native country," though it adds "esp. when referred to in patriotic terms" for fatherland. The words, ...
2
votes
2answers
526 views

Why is “feminism” good but “racism” and other “-isms” bad? [closed]

Feminism is generally seen as a good thing. It means something or other about achieving equality of the sexes; of treating people of different sexes the same or as well as each other. Racism is ...
1
vote
4answers
623 views

Difference in usage between “Dependent” and “Reliant”

Based on the comments on a question on another SE site, I'm trying to define the difference between something being "Dependent upon something" and being "reliant upon something". The sentence in ...
0
votes
2answers
981 views

Is “interesting” a negative or positive phrase?

When someone tells you something like: It's interesting to have such a feature. It's interesting to look. Is it a negative or positive phrase? It sounds like a positive phrase but I think ...
4
votes
5answers
314 views

Whats the connotation of 'makeshift'? Is it negative, neutral, or positive like: creative?

I'm curious what the association(s) are with the word 'makeshift"
0
votes
2answers
483 views

Opportunity vs chance?

As a non-native English speaker, I wonder what the difference is between the following sentences: It's a chance to work with you. It's an opportunity to work with you. I ask this question, because ...
2
votes
1answer
423 views

Does erudite carry positive or negative or neutral connotation?

Does erudite carry positive or negative or neutral connotation? I received a comment on my writing style from a mathematician a while ago Why not try for direct active voice and stop trying to ...
0
votes
1answer
81 views

What's the connotation of virility?

What is the connotation of "virility"? Is virility usually used in a bad derogatory sense? Thanks. -K
3
votes
4answers
1k views

Boogie - Negative connotation?

I work in a company which has a product called "Boogie" (for reasons that the original owner knows). The product has been called that way for years in our French Canadian environment. Our few English ...
2
votes
1answer
380 views

Is an areligious person secular?

An areligious person is one who is: unconcerned with or indifferent to religious matters. A secular person is one who is: in the state of being separate from religion, or not being ...
2
votes
1answer
585 views

What is the difference between these conditionals?

It's often said that non-native speakers have a poor understanding of the English tenses. I'm not one to disagree, but on the whole I've always thought tenses weren't that hard, until I got to the ...
3
votes
1answer
3k views

Any difference between “Are you done?” and “Are you done yet?”

I see people in movies saying Are you done? and Are you done yet? And I wonder what that the addition of yet might mean or suggest in the second version which is absent in the first ...
-2
votes
2answers
104 views

Usage of the word “commuted”? [closed]

The word commuted has multiple meanings (the arcane one being) - reduction in a judicial sentence. Heretofore, I thought it only meant travelled (from one place to the other). I am looking for ...
0
votes
3answers
971 views

“Call it a day” — is it positive? [closed]

I'm not a native speaker. Someone told my boss about my work, 'He called it a day'. Is it a rather neutral expression about ending some day work, or does it mean 'he's lazy and didn't finish it'?
3
votes
2answers
748 views

Fox and dog terms as applied to women

My curiosity here arises from the fact that it seems bizarre that "fox" and "dog" (not terribly dissimilar creatures - see Belyaev's fox experiment) would have such opposite meanings when used in ...
7
votes
4answers
483 views

First-rate, second-rate, and third-rate

I’d like some clarification on the use of these three words. First-rate has positive connotations and its meaning is manifest, but the meanings of second-rate and third-rate are relatively muddy in ...
4
votes
2answers
94 views

“the writing is on the wall” vs. “the handwriting is on the wall”

This morning I heard on NPR someone mention that: "The handwriting is on the wall". I had a notion that it was a biblical allusion, which was confirmed by: ...
6
votes
2answers
416 views

A word for something that's done only half-consciously

In writing fiction, I find myself using the word "absentmindedly" a lot, but I don't think it's really the word I'm looking for. I'm not looking so much something done in a distracted manner, but ...
3
votes
3answers
536 views

More precise word or phrase for neutral connotation of racism

Racism in the dictionary means a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own ...
2
votes
1answer
308 views

Connotation of the word “sprezzatura ”

According to Wikipedia, sprezzatura means a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it. ...
2
votes
2answers
261 views

Is there a word for “drab” with a positive connotation?

Let's imagine that I want to say the following, replacing the word drab: This painting is beautifully drab. I'm particularly thinking of when you describe a piece of art. Usually something ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

Is using “eager beaver” completely benign? [closed]

Person A uses the phrase "eager beaver" to mean an enthusiastic person. Person B chuckles. Basically my question boils down to who the weirdo is, so to speak: A, because "eager beaver" is outdated ...
-1
votes
1answer
1k views

Why would you want to do that? [closed]

I recently shared with several coworkers that I wanted to go to a particular class. My coworker responded to me with the following question: "Why would you want to do that?" I responded with a ...
-3
votes
1answer
835 views

“Go ahead and head on over to …”

Although I don't really have evidence for this, it seems to me that the phrase "go ahead and head on over to [...]" prevails more and more over simply "go to [...]". This phenomenon is particularly ...
0
votes
2answers
68 views

“Lucid intervals” usage?

Does "Lucid Interval" immediately bring to mind medical disorder? I would like to use it as the title for a blog and I don't want people to be put off.